A senior Israeli official played down Friday remarks from the White House that building new or expanding existing settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories “may not be helpful” in securing peace.
In an apparent break from President Donald Trump’s previously full-throated support of settlements building, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on Thursday that the new administration hadn’t yet taken an official position on settlements.
Responding Friday, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said Spicer’s comments didn’t amount to “a U-turn”.
“The statement is very clear and essentially means: wait for the meeting with (Israeli) Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, who is arriving in Washington in less than two weeks to meet President Trump, and then we’ll determine our policy,” Danon told Israeli public radio.
The Zionist entity has now approved more than 6,000 settler units since Trump took office having signaled a softer stance on settlement construction than predecessor Barack Obama.
“While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful,” Spicer said on Thursday.
Trump is scheduled to welcome Netanyahu to the White House on February 15.